A mission of hope: Pray for priests

Jared Staudt

Ecclesia semper reformanda: The Church must always be reformed. These words have hit home recently in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the Church. The sins of our leaders have discouraged us, although we can also recognize a profound crisis of faith and holiness affecting all the members of the Church. The Lord calls his entire Church to renewal through prayer and a life conformed to him. In this renewal, we must pray for our leaders especially, our bishops, priests, deacons, and religious, because we depend on them to model the Christian life for us and to support us in our own growth.

A Benedictine monk has shared profound insights on the importance of adoration in the life of priests and the need for everyone to pray for the holiness of priests. This anonymous monk has shared the inspirations he received of Jesus speaking to him in prayer: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Angelico, 2016, with imprimatur from the Bishop of Meath). Although the work addresses itself most directly to priests, I found much encouragement in the book through a call to a stronger friendship with Jesus through adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

For instance, take this message from December 20, 2011: “The practice of adoration is not difficult. It is a gentle abiding in My presence, a resting in the radiance of My Eucharistic Face, a closeness to My Eucharist Heart. Words, though sometimes helpful, are not necessary, nor are thoughts. What I seek from one who would adore Me in spirit and in truth is a heart aflame with love, a heart content to abide in My presence silent and still, engaged only in the act of loving Me and of receiving My love. Though this is not difficult, it is, all the same, My own gift to the soul who asks for it. Ask then for the gift of adoration” (208).

We can be afraid of silent prayer because we do not know what to say or do. The book invites us simply to be with Jesus and to spend time with him in love. We do not have to worry about making good use of the time, as this puts the emphasis on us, but to allow Jesus to act in us as we fix our attention and our heart on him. “Give me your attention and I will work the wonders of My merciful love in your soul. Hold yourself facing Me. Abide in My presence gently, without forcing yourself to produce thoughts, feelings, or sensations . . . All that is necessary is faith, and with faith, hope, and with hope, the love that binds the soul to Me and makes union with Me a reality” (200).

Although the message of adoration applies to everyone, the author relates the development of his own vocation to form a Benedictine monastery dedicated to perpetual adoration for the sanctification of priests. “By the prayer of adoration for My priests, you are working with Me for them. You are working with Me to lift them when they fall, to bind up their wounds, to deliver them from bondage to evil, to open them to My gifts, and to obtain for them a great openness to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit. Your union with Me in prayer lessens the resistance of many priests to entering resolutely upon the path of holiness that I am opening before them” (119).

The book contains many beautiful prayers (compiled also in an appendix), which guide us in responding to Jesus’ call for increased trust through prayer. Here is one example: “My Jesus, only as Thou willest, when Thou willest, and in the way Thou willest, To Thee be all glory and thanksgiving, Who rulest all things mightily and sweetly, and Who fillest the earth with Thy manifold mercies. Amen” (131).

In addition, it proposes a Chaplet of Reparation, also called an Offering of the Precious Blood for Priests, which enables us to join the mission of praying for priests. “On the Our Father bead: Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish or spot, in reparation for my sin and for the sins of all Thy priests. On the Hail Mary beads: By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus, purify and sanctify Thy priests. In place of the Glory be to the Father: O Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named, have mercy on all Thy priests, and wash them in the Blood of the Lamb” (269).

In Sinu Jesu calls us to a deeper love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, as well as inviting us into the needed mission to pray for our shepherds. In a time of discouragement, it offers us hope through the power of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to renew his Church.

COMING UP: Local artists choose life in pro-life art show

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For someone who’s always been in love with art, it’s not surprising that Brett Lempe first encountered God through beauty. Lempe, a 25-year-old Colorado native, used his talent for art and new-found love of God to create a specifically pro-life art show after a planned show was cancelled because of Lempe’s pro-life views.

Lempe was “dried out with earthly things,” he said. “I was desperately craving God.”

Three years ago, while living in St. Louis, Mo., Lempe google searched for a church to visit and ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

“I was captivated by the beauty of the 40 million mosaic tiles,” he said.

Lempe is not exaggerating. This Cathedral is home to 41.5 million tiles that make up different mosaics around the sanctuary. Witnessing the beauty of this church is what sparked his conversion, he said, and was his first major attraction towards Catholicism.

Lempe continued on to become Catholic, then quit his job several months after joining the Church to dedicate himself completely to art. Most of his work post-conversion is religious art.

Lempe planned to display a non-religious body of artwork at a venue for a month when his contact at the venue saw some of Lempe’s pro-life posts on Facebook. Although none of the artwork Lempe planned to display was explicitly pro-life or religious, the venue cancelled the show.

“I was a little bit shocked at first,” he said. “Something like me being against abortion or being pro-life would get a whole art show cancelled.”

Lempe decided to counter with his own art show, one that would be explicitly pro-life.

On Sept. 7, seven Catholic artists displayed work that gave life at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Denver.

“Catholicism lends itself to being life-giving,” Lempe said.

The show included a variety of work from traditional sacred art, icons, landscapes, to even dresses.

Students for Life co-hosted the event, and 10 percent of proceeds benefited the cause. Lauren Castillo, Development director and faith-based program director at Students for Life America gave the keynote presentation.

Castillo spoke about the need to be the one pro-life person in each circle of influence, with coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The reality of how many post-abortive women are already in our circles is big, she said.

“Your friend circle will get smaller,” Castillo said. “If one life is saved, it’s worth it.”

Pro-Life Across Mediums

Brett Lempe’s Luke 1:35

“This painting is the first half at an attempt of displaying the intensity and mystical elements of Luke 1:35,” Lempe said. “This work is influenced somewhat by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ painting as I try to capture the moment when the “New Adam” is conceived by Our Blessed Mother.”

Claire Woodbury’s icon of Christ Pantokrator

“I was having a difficult time making that icon,” she said. “I was thinking it would become a disaster.”

She felt Jesus saying to her, “This is your way of comforting me. Is that not important?”

“Icons are very important to me,” she said. “I guess they’re important to Him too.”

Katherine Muser’s “Goodnight Kisses”

“Kids naturally recognize the beauty of a baby and they just cherish it,” Muser said of her drawing of her and her sister as children.

Brie Shulze’s Annunciation

“There is so much to unpack in the Annunciation,” Schulze said. “I wanted to unpack that life-giving yes that our Blessed Mother made on behalf of all humanity.”

“Her yes to uncertainty, to sacrifice, to isolation, to public shame and to every other suffering that she would endure is what allowed us to inherit eternal life.”

“Her fiat was not made in full knowledge of all that would happen, but in love and total surrender to the will of God.”

All photos by Makena Clawson